MANILA, Philippines—It’s part of a grand plan to solve the city’s traffic problem.
Manila Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said he expected the complaints from commuters and drivers affected by Tuesday’s implementation of a council resolution banning the entry of provincial and metro buses without private terminals in the city.
But the head of the Manila Traffic Council said it’s just the start of a grand plan to ease traffic congestion in the capital, which includes video monitoring, sticker and numbering system, designation of terminals and loading/unloading areas and possibly city-run electric buses to ply the Vito Cruz-Lawton route.
Commuters, mostly students, coming from Quezon City to Manila, swamped a stretch of España Boulevard, on Tuesday, while some angry passengers caught unaware of the rerouting threw coins at the bus drivers.
There was heavy traffic as buses coming from Quezon Avenue had to turn around and unload passengers at Welcome Rotonda while some drivers refused to leave as they awaited instruction from their operators.
Domagoso and Mayor Joseph Estrada went to the area to direct the traffic flow. Domagoso said that in 30 minutes, they directed 40 buses to turn around.
“These are the things we have to face. We have a problem in the city, which is traffic, and we are attending to it. And this is just one of the formula to ease traffic in the city,” Domagoso told reporters.
The City Council passed Resolution No. 48 on July 16 to regulate the entry of city and provincial buses, allowing only those with existing private terminals in Manila. Buses coming from south via Taft Avenue must turn right to Vito Cruz while those coming from San Juan must turn left to Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard.
Buses from Osmeña Highway should turn right to Quirino Avenue then turn around at Plaza Dilao Rotonda back to Osmeña. Buses coming from north of Manila should turn around from A. Bonifacio left to Aurora Boulevard, left Dimasalang Street onward to A. Bonifacio, with loading and unloading zone along Aurora Boulevard corner Elias Street.
Buses that are allowed to enter the city are not allowed to pick up and unload passengers along any street, except at their respective terminals.
Bus companies with private terminals in the city according to a partial list prepared by the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau are:
Sta. Monica, Aguila, Baliwag Transit, Victory Liner, RL Transit, German Spirit, Genesis Mersan, BBTSC, Bataan Transit, Saulog Transit, Candon, Philippine Rabbit, San Transit, BSTSMC, Eagle Star, Dangwa, Peñafrancia, AB Liner, Florida, Raymund, Farinas, and Ohayami.
“As far as the City Council is concerned, a public hearing was conducted by the transportation committee headed by Councilor Letlet Zarcal. Bus operators were present and stakeholders were invited,” Domagoso said.
“Why all of a sudden there are some bus drivers who were not informed? Chances are, these complainants are colorum,” the vice mayor said, referring to unregistered vehicles. “Because if you’re not part of the list of legitimate franchise holders, you won’t receive the notice. We’re actually hitting two birds with one stone, ease traffic and apprehend colorum buses.”
He added that there’s a billboard in the affected areas informing the public of the traffic rerouting.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino said he was not aware of the traffic plan.
Domagoso said he tried to talk to Tolentino two weeks ago, “I was told by his secretary that I will receive a call within that day but I did not.” He added that Chief Insp. Olivia Sagaysay, head of the Manila police traffic unit, had informed the MMDA. The MTPB also sent the MMDA a copy of the resolution through fax.
The city administration is “dead serious on attending to the traffic problem,” according to Domagoso, adding that they are mulling a city-run massive transportation system using some 50 units of international standard electric buses.
“The planning is now up to this level. But I’m not saying that we’re going to do this right away. We’re just considering an option for the riding public in case there is a need for buses,” he said.
He said the project would be funded through private-public partnership and the buses would traverse Vito Cruz-Taft-Lawton then Lawton-Anda Circle-Roxas Boulevard-Vito Cruz.
“We’re not penalizing bus companies or prohibiting their business. We’re giving them an option, let’s sit down and talk,” Domagoso said. “I would like to remind them that franchise is a privilege, not a right.”
He said there should be a consultation between the local government and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board regarding the former’s load capacity of roads.
“What we’re going to do next are how to utilize lanes and how to regulate entries of buses. For the meantime, they have to follow. We can always amend this (resolution) as long as they will cooperate,” he said.
The vice mayor said bus companies that would cooperate with the traffic plan would eventually be allowed entry but they would be regulated through the issuance of big stickers and numbering system so that the buses could be easily identified through the video monitoring system.